Volunteer workers at the Dublin Samaritans have doubled their usual hours as the number of distressed calls they receive has skyrocketed due to covid-19 and the lockdown.
Reportedly, almost all callers mentioned covid-19 and the lockdown as a major part of their reason for calling the helpline.
The Dublin branch of the 24-hour organisation received 82,000 calls in 2019, and volunteers reported a major uptick during 2020.
“Since the restrictions began, many of our volunteers have taken calls from young people who were affected by the loss of contact with friends, often in conjunction with tense relationships with family they’re living with,” the group said in a statement.
“This supports early findings from the Mental Health Foundation that in a survey of 2,200 UK adults, young people are almost twice as likely to feel lonely during lockdown than others.
“As restrictions continued, young people have also shared worries about not being able to form new relationships, and relying on social media much more in the absence of in-person contact.
“As restrictions persist, volunteers tell us they are receiving more calls from young people experiencing mental health problems and their problems seem more severe compared to when the restrictions first began in early spring.
“Lack of access to mental health support has also been an increasingly common concern, including waiting times for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Many young people have told our volunteers that they wouldn’t access mental health support until crisis point for fear of burdening services and instead have been coping alone.
“This supports research by Mind, which found that over two-thirds of young people (68%) said their mental health got worse during the first national lockdown. Research also suggests that a third of 19 year-old women and a quarter of 19 year-old men in the UK had symptoms of depression during the first national lockdown.”
The Samaritans have also claimed that many people, particularly young people, report fear and uncertainty regarding the future, particular in respect to job security and education.
“The economic impact of the pandemic has disproportionately fallen on young people. Research in early May suggested a third of young people lost their jobs or were furloughed – nearly twice the rate of older workers. The ongoing local and national restrictions have had the greatest impact on roles that most non-graduate young people work in (especially retail and hospitality).”